Ibn Sab’in


Born in the Ricote Valley near Murcia in either 613/1216 or 614/1217, Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Haqq Ibn Sab'in became well known as a Sufi master who was steeped in the philosophical traditions of his day. As a result he was apparently sought out to answer various philosophical questions posed by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II (1194–1250). He was the author of several works, including Budd al-ʿārif (which can be translated as either 'The Separation of the Gnostic' or 'The Amplitude of the Knower'), in which he writes: 'the function of the prophets is not to originate doctrine but to reaffirm a primordial wisdom that transcends all revealed religion'. This primordial wisdom, according to Ibn Sab'in, was that taught by the mysterious figure of Hermes or Idris. The distorted picture given by later authors that he led a life full of controversy and persecution and even committed suicide, has been called into question by recent research. He had several devoted disciples, including the poet al-Shushtari, and died in Mecca.